From Tulsa World. By DAVID HARPER
Tulsans will soon have the opportunity to see the city from a unique and lofty perspective thanks to a pair of local attorneys and their associates.
Dan and Donnie Smolen are having a pair of London-style double-decker buses renovated with an eye towards having the twin 13-foot, 6-inch-tall, 30-foot-long, 70-seat vehicles on the city’s streets in early 2013.
Dan Smolen said he saw a similar type of bus parked at a local automobile salvage business, which got him thinking about the possibility of having such distinctive vehicles driving through the downtown Tulsa and Cherry Street areas to serve the weekday lunchtime crowd.
“It’s going to be a brand new option for public transportation and for private parties,” Dan Smolen said. “Everything is going to be first-class.”
Dan Smolen said it’s costing close to a half-million dollars to acquire and refurbish two 1978 Bristol VRT double-decker buses, which he said were formerly used in Minneapolis.
Jason Anderson of Anderson Classics & Kustoms in Claremore is leading the renovation effort. He said his crew is putting in long days with the goal of having the first bus finished by the end of the year and the second one completed by April.
“It’s just time-consuming because it’s so damn big,” Anderson said of the ongoing work on the first bus.
Dan Smolen said the vehicles will look “really posh” when completed, with hardwood ceilings, tweed interiors, leather seats, premium sound systems and LED lighting. He said he envisions a charge of about $5 per round-trip ticket for a weekday lunchtime passenger with a rental rate for private functions on nights and weekends varying from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
The name of this effort by the Smolens and attorneys Oleg Roytman and David Warta is the “Cheyenne Bus Company,” a moniker drawn from a 1920s-era 10,000-square-foot warehouse on North Cheyenne Avenue where the buses will be stationed.
There is still the matter of getting the necessary approval from the city, a step that Dan Smolen says will be addressed next month.
He said he has examined the relevant laws and sees no barriers. He said the trolleys that recently began running Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the downtown area are filling a different niche than the double-decker buses will.
Dan Smolen said the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority’s fleet of buses serves an “important purpose by providing public transportation throughout the whole city.”
However, he said the double-deckers will be offering something different.
“Of course, it’s going to be cooler,” he said. “Ultimately, they’ll become iconic.”